Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
TYLER J. ROMINES, Petitioner-Respondent,
DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent-Appellant.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF TEXAS COUNTY Honorable Judge Kerry
W. SHEFFIELD, J.
driver's license revocation case, the Director of Revenue
("Director") appeals a judgment reinstating the
driving privileges of Tyler J. Romines ("Driver").
Director revoked Driver's driving privileges because
Driver refused to submit to a chemical test of his blood
alcohol content after he was arrested for driving while
intoxicated. See § 302.574.1. Following a
hearing, the trial court reinstated Driver's driving
privileges, and Director appeals. Director argues the trial
court misapplied the law when it held Director had failed to
meet his burden to prove Driver was "actually driving
while intoxicated" rather than that the officer had
"reasonable grounds to believe" Driver was driving
while intoxicated. We agree, reverse the trial court's
judgment, and remand this case to the trial court which is
instructed to apply the correct legal analysis to the facts
and Procedural Background
March 25, 2018, at 1:33 a.m., Officer Kenneth Reynolds
("Officer Reynolds") of the Houston, Missouri
Police Department observed a vehicle exceeding the speed
limit by traveling 51 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour
zone. Driver was driving the vehicle. After he pulled Driver
over and began speaking with Driver, Officer Reynolds smelled
"a faint odor of alcohol" coming from Driver's
vehicle. Driver admitted "he'd drank a couple [of]
beers" and had been drinking Bud Light.
Reynolds asked Driver to perform three field sobriety tests:
the horizontal gaze nystagmus ("HGN"), the
walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. Based on Driver's
performance on the HGN test, Officer Reynolds concluded
Driver had "been drinking" and was "under the
influence." Officer Reynolds administered the one-leg
stand test, where Driver "put his foot down several
times." Officer Reynolds stopped administering this test
because he was afraid Driver would fall over. Regarding the
walk-and-turn test, Officer Reynolds stated Driver
"failed to maintain the heel-to-toe stance" and
"took the incorrect number of steps."
Reynolds advised Driver he was under arrest, read him the
implied consent language, and requested Driver perform a
portable breath test. Driver refused to take the breath test.
Reynolds testified he believed Driver was driving while
intoxicated. Driver's driving privileges were revoked
because of his refusal. A trial de novo was held on August
10, 2018, and on September 17, 2018, the trial court
reinstated Driver's driving privileges stating as
NOW on this 17th day of September, the [c]ourt, based on the
credibility of the witness's testimony presented by
[Director] at the hearing on August 10, 2018, and upon
receipt and review of [Driver's] and [Director's]
Memos in support of their respective positions, finds
that [Director] has not met its burden on the issue of
whether or not [Driver] was driving a motor vehicle in an
intoxicated or drugged condition under RSMo.
§302.574.4, and, therefore, finds in favor of [Driver].
THEREFORE, the [c]ourt orders the [Director] to reinstate
[Driver's] driving privilege and expunge from it[s]
records any and all references to this action and the refusal
of [Driver] to comply with RSMo. §§302.574 and
(emphasis added). A notice of appeal was timely filed.
arising from a trial court's judgment in a driver's
license revocation case are governed by the same standard of
review as other court-tried civil cases. White v. Dir. of
Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 307 (Mo. banc 2010); Mills
v. Dir. of Revenue, 568 S.W.3d 904, 906-07 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2019). That is, the trial court's judgment will be
affirmed "unless there is no substantial evidence to
support it, unless the decision is contrary to the weight of
the evidence, or unless the trial court erroneously declares
or applies the law." Hinnah v. Dir. of Revenue,
77 S.W.3d 616, 620 (Mo. banc 2002). Legal issues are reviewed
de novo. White, 321 S.W.3d at 308.
"When the facts relevant to an issue are contested, the
reviewing court defers to the trial court's assessment of
the evidence." Id. "This Court ...